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The UN Technical Support Team (TST) has issued six briefs in preparation for the eighth session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

OWG 8 will convene from 3-7 February 2014, in New York, US.

UNGANovember 2013: The UN Technical Support Team (TST) has issued six briefs in preparation for the eighth session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). OWG 8 will convene from 3-7 February 2014, in New York, US.

The ‘Biodiversity’ brief stresses: the benefits of preserving biodiversity to indigenous peoples, poor people and vulnerable groups; the dependence of many economic sectors on biodiversity and ecosystems services; and solutions that conservation can offer to a range of societal challenges, such as poverty eradication. According to the brief, since the targets for biodiversity included in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have not been met, biodiversity should be better integrated into the broader development objectives in the post-2015 development agenda. It recommends that the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets be used as an agreed framework for action. The brief also suggests that: biodiversity be integrated into overarching SDGs on poverty eradication, the green economy and sustainable development; biodiversity-related targets and indicators be integrated into SDGs on food security, nutrition, water and health; and biodiversity be included in goals on protecting land, forests, oceans and other ecosystems.

According to the brief on ‘Conflict Prevention, Post-Conflict Peacebuilding and the Promotion of Durable Peace, Rule of Law and Governance,’ these issues are interdependent foundations and enablers of sustainable development. Progress towards the MDGs has been hampered by violent conflict, the brief says, which is often driven by deprivations and grievances related to different dimensions of development. On the impacts of rule of law and governance on sustainable development, the brief highlights: fair and accountable justice systems; transparent rules; security of land tenure and property; inclusive participation; access to natural resources; and women’s empowerment and gender equality. It recommends that peace, rule of law and governance be mainstreamed throughout the development framework, and possibly also addressed in a stand-alone goal, two or three goals, or separate targets under other goals. The brief further notes the importance of proper measurement.

The ‘Forests’ brief notes that goals, targets, criteria and indicators currently are provided in, inter alia: the MDGs; the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests (NLBI) agreed by the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF); the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets; the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). An SDG on forests could address the proliferation of international initiatives that deal with forests, while promoting the creation of an enabling environment for the promotion of other SDGs, such as environmental sustainability, socio-economic development, good governance and rule of law, poverty eradication, and gender equality. The brief also discusses the benefits of a cross-cutting ‘Integrated Landscapes SDG’ focusing on land, forests, biodiversity, water and other renewable natural resources. It concludes by stressing the importance of inclusiveness in sustainable forest management (SFM), and the need to diversify the sources of finance for forests.

The brief on ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment’ highlights that gender inequality is the most pervasive form of inequality globally, and indicates continued challenges in the areas of education, maternal mortality, economic opportunities, public decision making, and violence. It links uneven progress on the gender-related MDGs to a lack of alignment of targets and indicators to the broader principles outlined in the Millennium Declaration, and to gaps in data availability and quality. The brief notes that proposals for addressing gender inequality emphasize its centrality for the post-2015 agenda and the SDGs, and its relevance for all countries. The brief recommends that the SDGs should include both a stand-alone goal on gender equality as well as ensure the integration of gender-specific targets and indicators across all goals, with priority areas identified as: violence against women; access to economic opportunities and resources; and access to and participation in decision making.

The ‘Oceans and Seas’ brief emphasizes the importance of these issues to sustainable development, poverty eradication, global food security and human health, and global climate change. The brief addresses continued challenges regarding unsustainable use of marine resources, marine pollution, and destruction of marine habitat, while highlighting challenges of compliance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its implementing agreements. The brief highlights proposals to create a stand-alone SDG on oceans and to integrate oceans-related aspects in other SDGs. Going forward, it says attention should be paid to: effective implementation of current agreements; capacity building and technology transfer; improved governance and targeted allocation of sufficient resources; and data availability and management.

The brief on ‘Promoting Equality,’ including Social Equity, says inequalities remain very high both between and within countries in terms of income, wealth and access to natural resources. The brief identifies a growing consensus that: inequalities are driven and sustained by structural factors, such as barriers to benefits from international trade, weakly regulated markets, technological change favoring the highly educated, reduced social protection systems, and regressive tax systems; inequalities are multi-dimensional and intersecting in nature, which reinforce the deprivations faced by particular groups; inequalities of opportunity and of outcomes cannot be fully separated; and inequalities matter for social justice, as well as for poverty reduction and sustainable development. The brief notes that the global consultation on ‘Addressing Inequalities’ stressed that human rights should guide future responses. Inequalities could be addressed in the post-2015 development agenda by, inter alia: establishing tailored targets and disaggregating data to address inequalities within all goals, targets and indicators; integrating a focus on inequality throughout all goals, targets and indicators; developing a stand-alone goal on reducing inequalities; incorporating monitoring tools on inequalities; integrating a focus on addressing inequalities for sustainability; incorporating a focus on inclusive and sustainable economic growth and more equitable global and national economic systems; increasing public investments in people’s capabilities; and tackling the structural drivers of inequalities. [Publication: TST Issues Brief: Biodiversity] [Publication: TST Issues Brief: Conflict Prevention, Post-Conflict Peacebuilding and the Promotion of Durable Peace, Rule of Law and Governance] [Publication: TST Issues Brief: Forests] [Publication: TST Issues Brief: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment] [Publication: TST Issues Brief: Oceans and Seas] [Publication: TST Issues Brief: Promoting Equality, including Social Equity] [OWG Website]


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